I am naturally “gifted” some might say. I have the ability to hear music in my head rather well. I believe we all hear music in our heads, but I guess where people differ is that some of us can translate it to an instrument or a work. It does seem very strange that someone could hear a melody and not be able to copy it down to an instrument. Gifted doesn’t go very far in the world of music if you have no inspiration, however. Inspiration defined in film, novels, poetry, glamorizes the word as the urge to create works that are divine. In my view inspiration is to have the ability to open your mind to almost everything that surrounds you and see the beauty in it.
My personal conversion in the form of further musical study described below came upon me approximately ten years ago. That is when I retired from composing. I am thirty-seven and just released my debut CD, Charmed Elixirs. So if you wonder what happened to me, this should answer your question.
Around the age of nineteen I began experimenting with composition. If you read my mini-bio, you would know that I had studied piano starting at age five up to eleven or twelve. My first encounter with composing came when I was or nine or ten. Mr. Forge, my piano teacher, assigned a lesson involving taking a chord that was printed in the treble clef in an instruction page and then re-writing it over and over. This was a take-home lesson. I truly hated lessons and would procrastinate until the very last minute to do my assignments. Not understanding the exercise, I sat down at the piano and proceeded to write additional chords on the instruction sheet to make a phrase versus copying the chord over and over. Feeling good about completing my task, I turned it in to Mr. Forge at my weekly lesson, who promptly scolded me for not correctly understanding the exercise. But Mr. Forge was a great instructor and I know he has a son who played professionally, although I am not sure of his name. At times Mr. Forge would fall asleep while I practiced. He also had wonderful pets. I still feel sad when I remember the day I told him I quit. Teenage years…. Rebellion and the piano didn’t go well together (not then at least).
So it was around age of nineteen that I started studying music theory in-depth, counterpoint, composers and learning piano scores. I started recording works at age twenty-six. I was independent and just really starting up. But there was something missing. Inspiration. I was a cocky, naïve, immature composer. I created music for strange reasons now I cannot understand or even articulate. I realized this at age twenty-eight.
I then decided to go back to what is basic. I quit my business in the medical field, which had allowed quite sufficient time for composing, and got a job at Home Depot. I moved into a 10′ x 25′ basement and had little responsibility. I bought a bicycle to use as transportation to work and back and everyone at my work would laugh as it always had a flat. I found that it was more of a challenge to ride a 10-speed on flats. I worked in building materials and my duties were to load concrete into trucks by hand and drive a forklift most of the day. I loved the dirt and the rottenness of it all. I forgot about “talent” and all that garbage. I was just Jim in Building Materials and I had much responsibility, like taking out the trash every hour and breaking up the drywall so it would fit in the compactor. Unloading trucks…, and I tell you I had very many interesting conversations with truckers.
We would go out many nights after work, my co-workers and I, for drinks. It wasn’t so much the co-workers that attracted me to the bars, it was the game of pool. I still play the game and think of myself as pretty good at it, above average. And sometimes when I was a little too inebriated, I would out of nowhere exclaim that I was a composer. They would give me a startled glance and I would say “but I’m retired.” Boy they would laugh. It was during this time I really began to see beauty in many things I would not have noticed before, even if it was one foot in front of my nose.
After five years of that routine, the sounds and music in my head started playing louder and I began thinking about music. One New Year’s Evening, 2005, I made a resolution to quit my job of hard labor and find employment of a sort that would allow for time to create. For the next two years I positioned myself back into the medical field while listening to various forms of music to use as inspiration for future works.
Now I am here.